In one of the wildest finishes in NBA postseason history, the Celtics have forced a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference finals, with Derrick White hitting a game-winning layup on a putback with less than a second left to lift Boston to a 104-103 win over Miami.
After Jimmy Butler powered a furious comeback with the Heat down 98-88 with over four minutes left — he scored 13 of Miami’s final 15 points, pulling them ahead with three free throws with three seconds left — the Celtics inbounded the ball, a Marcus Smart 3 went in and out, and the sixth-year pro White flew in for the game-winning rebound and score.
Despite Boston leading by double-digits in the second and fourth quarters, Miami worked through the deficits and gave itself a shot with just seconds left.
And despite going 7-for-35 from 3, Boston made up for it by getting to the free-throw line and going 29-for-34 from the stripe. Jayson Tatum finished with 31 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. Jaylen Brown added 26 points, 10 rebounds and three assists, while Smart had 21.
Stat to know: The Celtics became the fourth team in NBA history to force a Game 7 after trailing 3-0 in a series. Game 7 is Monday night in Boston.
Play of the game:
What’s next for Boston: The Celtics need to keep attacking the rim and getting to the line. Tatum’s activity in doing so is what drives this team. He went 15-for-15 from the line. The other key? Keeping Butler at Bay for three quarters.
What’s next for Miami: Butler has to respond and put up a masterclass in Game 7 at TD Garden. He can’t be as rough as he was for three quarters, then wait until late to turn it on. One positive for Miami: only five turnovers on Saturday night. They need to have that level of efficiency on Monday. Duncan Robinson tried to come up clutch but failed, so his confidence is something to monitor on Monday. Handling a raucous atmosphere is key for this team, and so is getting off to a good start. Kyle Lowry’s energy is also important. It kept Miami alive on Saturday.
John Fanta is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for FOX Sports. He covers the sport in a variety of capacities, from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to providing commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John_Fanta.